Friday, July 06, 2012

UNISON Labour Link Forum 2012: Day 1

Picture is of Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Health Secretary and key note speaker at today's UNISON Labour Link Forum which this year
takes place in Cardiff.

Labour Link is the UNISON political fund that is affiliated to the Labour Party. Delegates to the Forum are elected regionally and from our self-organised groups. The Forum began with a welcome from National Chair, Steve Warwick, who was the first to make the point about how good it was to be in a Country with a Labour Government. This was followed by motions on "Constitutional Change" and "The Welsh Approach".

Andy gave a short speech followed by a Q&A. He repeated his promise to appeal the Coalition Health and Social Care bill if a Labour government is elected in 2015. He warned Forum that we must not fall into the Tory trap and fight amongst ourselves. The Party must stop being dominated by elites and encourage more ordinary working people to become Councillors and MP's.

The next key note speaker was Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales - Prif Weinidog Cymru .  He was proud that the Party was implementing the Labour manifesto commitment to introduce a living wage for Wales. Carwyn said while it was desperately important to re-elect Labour in 2015, you had to give voters reasons why to vote Labour.

After this was more motions on "Public Sector Pay", "A New Direction for the Labour Party" (my branch and London region motion) and "defending the NHS". There were a number of attacks on the shadow Labour team over its shambolic response to pay and spending cuts. 

After lunch there was an address by Assistant General Secretary, Cliff Williams. He stressed the importance of  UNISON using its political influence alongside its industrial strategy. He also made clear that while UNISON does not mind debate, it will not tolerate attacks by Progress on our link with the Party.  An unaccountable organisation that has secretive funding, its own membership and is even a listed private company!

This was followed by seminars and a Parliamentary Q&A with Lillian Greenwood MP (former UNISON National officer), Dave Anderson MP (former UNISON President) and Derek Vaughan MEP.  Lillian defended Councils from Coalition attempts to blame them for cuts. I liked Dave's comment that Lib Dem MP's shamefaced excuses  for voting with the Coalition was "bo****ks". While Derek pointed out that £50 billion could be raised from a Robin Hood Tax (a Tobin or Financial transaction tax). Make the Banks pay to clear up their mess.

First day finished with more motions on "Universal Credit"; "Trade Union Facility time" and "Justice at Work".

You can follow the Forum on #lablink12
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